Although “home improvement grants” are traditionally a sum of money disbursed to a home owner by the government or by a private foundation, the term “home improvement grants” is also often used informally to refer to all forms of financial assistance homeowners are eligible to receive, including low-interest and subsidized loans.
Homeowners can apply for them from the government by looking at the Federal Register online, which provides an exhaustive database of all forms of grants and aid that US Citizens can apply for, including home improvement grants. US government grant applications tend to be fairly excessive, requiring you to put hundreds of hours of your time into form-filling, data-collection, and writing.
US state and federal government home improvement grants usually have certain stipulations, too. For instance, in order to apply for certain grants, you will likely have to have an income under a certain amount of money – or you will probably have to prove that your house sustained a significant amount of damage from a recent flood or hurricane. You also may have to prove that you are significantly indebted and do not have the credit to obtain a bank loan (although some grants do not require this).
In addition to getting one because you have a low income or have been affected by a natural disaster, you may be able to get grants simply by virtue of the improvements you intend to make. For instance, if your improvements include a wind turbine, solar panels, or a solar fridge, you may qualify for special state or federal EPA initiatives to promote the use of alternative energy. Additionally, if you plan to refurnish your home with energy-efficient appliances and fixtures; and increase the R value of your walls, you may also be eligible for these same grants.
Now, if you would prefer not to deal with the long forms that government grants entail, you may want to consider applying to a private foundation. If you go to your local library and ask for private foundation directories, you will probably be given several 2000 page reference books – all of which cover the policies and habits of private foundations operating in the United States. Look for “home improvement grants” and other variations in the index. You will probably pull up several hundred matches.
Once you have done this, you will want to focus your attention on narrowing the field. You can do this by eliminating private foundations that only lend in regional areas. You can then eliminate them based on spending habits (i.e., do they commit 97% of funding to non-applicants?) and on competition (i.e., do they receive 30,000 applications and only give away $ 10?). You should then take the remaining private foundations and look at their policies for this type of grant
You will then want to write a boilerplate grant application, including what your need is and what your plan is – and how you will set benchmarks and allocate the money properly. You will then want to personalize this application and send it to each private foundation. If your proposal is sound and if you have at least some luck, you will receive those the grants you need, finally allowing you to make those much-needed upgrades.